One: The Ten Commandments of Street Survival
I ‑ Thou Shalt Not Not Train.
Imagine for a moment losing a real street fight. Imagine the impact on your confidence,
dignity and pride. Imagine if you were hurt and couldn’t train or possibly go
to work for several weeks. Imagine if when you “physically” recovered you were
gun‑shy in sparring. Imagine all this.
At the time of the attack you took too long to recognize the
danger, hesitated and as you started to react you were knocked to the ground
and though you put up a valiant effort you were beaten.
Upon reflection you realized that you lost this fight for
several reasons: Your actual understanding of the theories of “intuitive
radar”, “attacker profiles”, “sucker punch psychology” and “fear management”
were limited. Actually, you never did
“sucker punch” drills. You had never done “threshold and pain tolerance
training” or worked on “ballistic ground fighting” and you never analyzed
This scenario is a fantasy or perhaps a nightmare. But it
need not be. “Totality” in your
training is simply about being thorough. I always my tell my students, “If I am to lose, let me lose to the
superior fighter. Let me lose because he was better than I was. Not because I
was worse than him.” How hard do
you train in relation to “why” you train? Think on that.
Coach Bear Bryant said,
“The will to win compares little with the will to prepare to win.” That is
one of my favorite quotes and pretty much sums it up.
You can’t not
train and expect to be your best at a moment’s notice. Boxers agree to fights 3
months in advance so that they may train for the contest. You don’t have that
luxury. As my friend Marco Lala said, “You can’t fake endurance."
2 ‑ Thou Shalt Not Defeat Thyself
The mental side of combat is so vast and powerful that it
quite literally determines your next move. Dan Millman wrote, “When faced with just one opponent and you
oppose yourself… you’re outnumbered.”
Powerful words. Your mind can be your ally or your most formidable
opponent. Your thoughts can motivate you or they can create the Inertia State
of psycho -physical paralysis.
Psychological fear leads to doubt and hesitation. Unchecked it can devolve into anxiety and
panic. Unsolicited, a ‘Victim’s
vocabulary' starts: What if I lose? What
if it hurts? What if I fail? Thoughts like these must be eliminated from
your vocabulary for you to perform at your peak. Your ‘self talk’ or 'internal
dialogue’ must be positive, assertive and motivating. Your inner coach must
empower you to greater heights, to surpass preconceived limitations, to boldly
go where…you get the picture. That is what it means to not defeat yourself.
3 ‑Thou Shalt Not give Up.
The will to survive is probably the most neglected area of
our training. It is also the most important. Knowing what to do and knowing
which tools to use is important but
compares little with the ‘will to survive’.
If you have great technique, but do not know how to dig deep, I will bet
on the opponent with heart. Will beats skill. “Not giving up,” means Not giving up. You must research this.
Irrespective of your training, there are situations that can
catch us off guard. Sudden violence or
specific threats outside our Comfort Zones can overwhelm us emotionally and
induce the ubiquitous “victim” mind‑set.
To off‑set this I have my students tap into their “desire” to
survive by writing out a list of things
they will lose if they do not survive the fight.
This list is memorized (ideally, long before any serious
altercation) and serves as an unconscious motivating force that triggers the
survival mechanisms when our theoretical warrior-self is experiencing technical
The list should include the most important people, places,
and things in your life. And you must remind yourself that if you “give up” in
the street ‑ you may be giving up that list as well.
In 1987, this concept became the Be Your Own BodyGuardTM
principle. This is a powerful metaphor
for street survival. Sometimes we feel
that we would rush to someone else’s aid quicker than we would defend
ourselves…this is a common emotional feeling, however, it is not very practical
if you are the intended victim. So ask
yourself, “Who (or what) would you fight to the death for?” And if you are that person’s Bodyguard, who is yours?
My friend…be your own
4 ‑Thou Shalt Not Fear Fear.
More dangerous than your opponent is your mind. If it
doesn’t support you you’re ¾ beaten before you’ve started. There are really
only two types of fear: biological and psychological.
Fear (biological) has been generally described as the “fight
or flight” syndrome for most of our modern history. This definition does not serve us once the physical confrontation
is under way and is really not pertinent to your success. Though the adrenaline surge created by your
survival signals is a component of success, it is the mind that ultimately
determines the action you will take.
Psychological fear, on the other hand, is an emotional state. Therefore it can
be controlled and used to create action.
However, due to the lack of good information on fear management, fear, as we feel it, usually creates
emotional inertia: your body’s inability to move. Inertia or panic is created
by psychological fear when the mind visualizes failure and pain. Understanding
this process is necessary to conquer fear.
We use three acronyms,
to help us remember that psychological fear is only in our mind. They are:
False Evidence Appearing Real
stimuli that distracts us; physical evidence: weapons, multiple opponents,
False Expectations Appearing Real
stimuli that distracts us; how we visualize, images of pain and failure.)
Failure Expected Action Required
trigger to DO SOMETHING!)
Cus D’Amato, a famous boxing coach, said, “The difference between the hero and the
coward is what they do with their fear.” The next time you feel it ‑
fight it. Challenge your fear. Attack your fear. Do not fear fear. We all feel
it. Fight your fear first then fight
your physical foe. This is one of the true ways of growth.
5 ‑Thou Shalt Not Telegraph Your Intentions.
When it’s time to fight, most fighters telegraph their
intentions. This “faux pas” is
committed at times by everyone and every type of fighter, including you and me.
From street fighters to professional boxers, from military generals to serial
killers. We all telegraph.
Telegraphing for most is considered to be a physical
gesture, but really, the physical telegraph is usually the third stage of the
telegraph ‘Domino effect’. In my
seminars I always remind participants that you
can only beat the opponent when the opponent makes a mistake. Think about
that. The “real” opportunity occurs at the moment of the telegraph, when the
intention is revealed, when there is hesitation or a momentary lapse in
Start thinking about the various ways we reveal ourselves,
signals that create the telegraph: anger, erratic breathing. Adopting a
specific stance, going for the knockout, verbal threat. These are some of the
most common telegraphs that would afford an experienced opponent some mental
preparedness. Remember that your opponent should be the last person to see your
This subject is so vast that I can’t do justice to it
here. Just remember that fighting is like
tennis, the player who makes the most unforced errors, generally loses. But don’t look at the obvious. Be sure to study our Sucker Punch Psychology and Non-Violent
6 ‑ Thou Shalt Not Lose The Street Fight.
You must know in advance that you will survive the authentic
street fight. By ‘authentic’ I mean a true situation where you have a moral and
ethical reason totake action.
Only then can you be resolute in your conviction and only then will you have
the support of good and the force of the universe behind you. This may sound
corny to some, but when you use your skills for ”life” (for preservation),
rather than “death”, (abuse of your skill) the emotional power that is
available to you is exponential.
You must also appreciate the relationship to the pejorative
ego in combat. You don’t “win” a real fight. You survive one. Win & lose
are labels our ego uses. Think survival. Think about your life and why you’ll
survive. This is true power.
Remember this: Never fight when your opponent wants to fight. Never fight where your opponent wants to fight. And never fight how youropponent wants to fight. Take care of those three factors,
I’ll bet on you. Sun Tzu wrote: “The
height of strategy is to attack your opponent’s strategy.” Study this.
purely a strategic level you can study the Samurai treatises about the mind and
the ego and death. They reveal much about the appropriate mind‑set for
lethal combat. If you catch a glimpse of the power of this mind‑set you
will recognize true power and you will be sure not to abuse this power.
7 ‑ Thou Shalt Not Invite Disaster.
You’ve heard the expression “An accident waiting to
happen”. So many victims of violence
failed to use simple skills like awareness and avoidance. No one deserves to be a victim, but many
street tragedies result from “planning
for failure through failure to plan."
Though the world is an incredible and wonderful place, it does have its
dangers. If you respect this simple
truth and spend a little time developing your Survival Toolbox, you can get
back to the real task at hand: enjoying your life.
For simplicity sake consider there are two types of victims.
Those who deny and ignore (apathy will usually help seal your fate) and those
who manufacture danger at every turn.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to read Gavin De Becker’s excellent
book The Gift of Fear, get yourself
a copy. It is the first time, in my
opinion; anyone has effectively explained the fear signal in a positive, useful
light as it relates to danger and violence.
His examples and theories are welcome additions to the pre-contact
arsenal necessary to try to avoid violence.
It would be nice if simply ‘trusting’ survival signals were
all we needed to detect and avoid danger.
Unfortunately, there may be situations where we do everything right, but
still find ourselves in the thick of things and must take physical action. Preparation is paramount.
Learn to evaluate a stimulus in advance. This mind‑set will spare you a lot of trouble if you do a little research.
In the end, most situations are easily avoided with the right attitude,
awareness and advance analysis.
Here are the critical areas you
Evaluate your routine. Are
there any obvious places you could be attacked? Is there something about your
schedule, behavior, residence, etc. that sends a‘come
and get me' message to an opportunist criminal? When would you attack you
Evaluate your mind. What
type of person are you? Do you find yourself in many confrontations? (Of any
nature) How do you deal with them? Do
youlose your temper quickly? Do you
accept abuse (verbal, mental, etc.) too readily? Both reactions could create
serious problems in a violent confrontation.
Evaluate your arsenal. You
may take care of the routine and have yourself in total control and still be
faced with a threat. What specialized skills do you bring to the confrontation?
Many of us become fairly proficient with our empty hands in a ready stance in
the dojo where we know the rules, we know our opponent, the level of contact is
agreed to and we’re wearing equipment and…I think you get my point. Do you
really understand the nut on the street? Are you confident on the ground?
Against a weapon? In a survival scenario? Total confidence results when you ask
pertinent questions and research, to satisfaction, the answers. That’s being
proactive. After all, this is your life.
Apathy and denial will seal your fate in a
confrontation. Other personality
aberrations like an inflated ego, misguided inferiority complex, and
overconfidence all contribute to the issue of safety. These attributes will
create problems during confrontations of any nature. Be proactive about the
things that can cause you grief.
I have a simple belief that keeps me honest and
introspective: I believe we experience
confrontations every day of our lives, (“Confrontation” defined as any
situation that affects our enjoyment of the moment – I know people who take
traffic personally!). Therefore, the degree of calmness and clarity with which we deal with our
confrontations will directly determine the quality of our day and therefore,
the quality of our life.
8 ‑ Thou Shalt Not Kill, Unless It Is Absolutely
Bruce Lee wrote in his Tao of Jeet Kune Do, “Forget about
winning and losing; forget about pride and pain. Let your opponent graze your
skin and you smash into his flesh; let him smash into your flesh and you
fracture his bones; let him fracture your bones and you take his life’ Do not
be concerned with your escaping safely ‑ lay your life before him!”
Hmmm? What do you think of this? Pretty powerful, huh? Note
how it triggered a visual and how it affected your mind‑set: power or
fear? Though Bruce Lee’s quote has much value, it sends a dangerous message if
not analyzed correctly.
Many people who come to the martial arts for self‑defense
buy into the mythological image of cool nerves, impenetrable defense and total
control. Unfortunately, the sociopath’s intensity on the street bears little
relation to the energy in the dojo and so those martial artists who have not
done diligent homework for the street situation are predisposed to fail. This
doesn’t mean they will. But, it means they survive in spite of the way they
What would you do if…?
Have you really visualized different scenarios and analyzed what would
be necessary to escape the confrontation
safely? It takes courage to walk
away. Is avoidance a component of your
self‑defense system? How far
would you go to avoid bodily harm?
Would you kill? What moral and
ethical issues do your responses raise?
Do you possess a directive, one that would support you in a court of Law
or when you looked in the mirror?
When you train with integrity, and respect all humanity, you
will grasp the deepest message in Bruce’s words. As a last resort I endorse his
9 ‑ Thou Shalt Not Settle For Mediocrity.
There are three key areas of concern for this commandment.
Human beings are designed for improvement. Our brains and bodies are built for
success. We use only a small percentage of our brain’s capacity. Our bodies are
capable of massive muscular and cardiovascular development and we have only
just begun to explore the power of spiritual development.
Remember earlier I wrote that the mind navigates the body? I
believe that there are three fundamental rules we all break from time to time
that prevent us from maximizing our performance and development in many areas.
AVOID COMPARISON: Compete with yourself. Use other people for inspiration
only. If someone is better than you are, use his or her “skill level” as a
reference point. Find out how they
train and what their beliefs are. Many
people miss this point and experience frustration in their training. The pejorative ego is duplicitous and works
overtime on comparison. It’s your job to defuse this emotional time bomb and
get focused on your path.
DON’T JUDGE: Don’t judge
others. Don’t even judge yourself. Learn to evaluate, diagnose, weigh, and
consider. When you change the “judgment filter” to one of “analysis”, you will
gain so much more. Like comparison, judgment is a detour away from our
goals. Many times we enter some arena
(relationship, job, fight) worrying about what the other person is bringing to
the table. How can you be yourself and
work on you when you are fixating on them? True education takes place when we
start to notice our tendency to compare and judge.
LIMITING BELIEFS: Many of us have been fed negative programs during our life
and these ‘ideas’ eventually become our
very own erroneous beliefs. And they
severely handicap our growth. How often do we say or hear statements like, “You
can’t”, “That’ll take too long.”, I’ll never be able to do that”, “What’s the point?”. The list goes on… you get my point.
Beliefs that do not serve your goals, success, happiness, or dreams must be
purged from your mind. This is an easy process…unless you believe it is too
Just remember that starting off positive is every bit as important as
Here’s another key concept in the performance enhancement
formula my company has developed: You’ll often hear motivators state: “Your
potential is unlimited”. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Actually ‘potential’ is quite finite, whereas ‘capacity’ is unlimited. Think about it [and yes I
know this is completely backwards from conventional thinking]. Your ability is limited by your capacity.
But you can work on your ‘capacity’ daily.
And therefore ‘capacity’ is continually evolving. However, ‘potential’ is fixed. In other words, your potential is limited by
the fact that you are human, or of a specific gender, age, size and so
forth. Potential is also something we
‘can’t do’ yet. The trick in maximizing performance therefore, will be our
ability to reframe, to create a personal paradigm shift and really direct our
energy into our ‘current abilities’ and forget about where we could be if…
Confused? Read the
next two paragraphs and then reflect a little.
I have done a number of motivational seminars on this very
important paradigm shift, an empowerment process I call The Myth of Peak Performance.
To consider, evaluate, plan and
proceed, you must understand the difference between “capacity” and
“potential”. What you can do is your capacity.
What you would like to be able to do is your ‘potential’. But, at the end of the day, you can only do
as much as you can do.
Reflect on this expression: “You’ll never know how much you
can do until you try to do more than you can.”
In training, assess your capacity, recognize your potential as greater,
and create realistic goals so that you experience success regularly and you
will be on your way to self‑mastery.
But do not fixate on your potential.
In the self-defense and martial art world many practitioners
severely handicap their capacity by not sharing information, not investigating
other options and ideas, not asking questions. Etc. To go beyond the
limitations of style’, you must challenge all ideas so that your training
results in unshakable faith in your skill.
10 ‑ Thou Shalt Not Rebuke Other Systems.
Lee said “Man, the living creature, the creating individual, is always more
important than any established style or system.”
This commandment is
important on two levels. Firstly, on an emotional level it is so important to
make peace with everyone we contact. This attitude is contagious and if we all
adopted a more loving and compassionate view of life and of our fellow human
beings, we would all experience a significant increase in happiness and peace
In the martial arts world there exists so much comparison,
pejorative competitiveness and politics, that our industry is simply a
microcosm of the warring nations and rival gangs that pollute our cities and
countries. Please reflect on this.
We are on the same team. We train to better our selves. We
choose different schools and styles for a variety of reasons. But we all want
the same thing. Peace. Inner peace. Confidence. Self‑control.
So keep an open mind. Maintain a “Beginners Mind”. A beginner loves to
learn. He is intent and intense. Learn to communicate, listen to the
and listen to the voice of body
language. When someone shows you a different way or explains a different
approach, listen keenly. Savor, digest and absorb.
And secondly, as a martial artist and self‑defense
specialist, you cannot afford to limit your training. The more you understand
any and all strategies, approaches, attitudes and methods, the greater your
remember, training must be holistic: Mind,
(*Note how each
commandment interconnects and a flaw in one of the areas could very well throw
the equation into flux.)
This was chapter 1, an excerpt from my street defense manual entitled BE YOUR OWN BODYGUARD.
Copyright Tony Blauer/Blauer Tactical Systems www.blauertactical.com
Permission is granted to quote, reprint or distribute provided the text is not altered and appropriate credit is given :-)
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